Lawsuit filed against county, two police officers Woman cites use of 'excessive force'

June 17, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

A Silver Spring woman has filed a $1.1 million lawsuit against Howard County and two police officers, alleging the officers used excessive force while arresting her during a traffic stop three years ago.

Michelle Teachout, 20, contends in the lawsuit that the officers violated her constitutional rights, filing criminal charges against her to cover up injuries she received in the arrest.

The civil lawsuit, filed June 9 against the county and Officers John Mynaugh and John Parrott in Howard Circuit Court, asserts the officers also violated Maryland law protecting citizens from excessive use of force during an arrest.

The suit also names "additional, presently unidentified," officers who were present during the incident along All Saints Road near Route 216 in North Laurel on June 10, 1990.

"Their conduct in this regard, individually and collectively, was both malicious and wanton," the lawsuit says.

Ms. Teachout could not be reached for comment.

Her attorneys, William Gately of Towson and John Clark Jr. of Columbia, also could not be reached.

Sgt. Gary Gardner, spokesman for the Police Department, and County Solicitor Barbara Cook declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Officer Mynaugh has been with the department since 1985, and Officer Parrott has been with the department since 1986, Sergeant Gardner said. Neither officer could be reached for comment.

The lawsuit says Ms. Teachout, then 17, was driving along All Saints Road when she was pulled over and ordered from her car by Officers Mynaugh and Parrott. Several other marked police cruisers responded to the scene.

The officers arrested Ms. Teachout and handcuffed her wrists behind her back when they learned she was driving without a valid drivers license, the suit says.

Ms. Teachout -- reportedly surrounded by police officers -- submitted to the arrest without resistance, the lawsuit says.

"[Officer] Mynaugh then and there, for no reason . . . physically attacked, assaulted and battered the plaintiff by grabbing her by her handcuffed arms, lifting her off of the ground and slamming her face forward into the roadbed," the lawsuit says.

"He then fell upon her, brutally jamming his knee into her back, grabbed the back of her head and ground her face into the graveled roadbed," the lawsuit states.

Officer Parrott and the other officers at the scene did nothing to stop Officer Mynaugh, the lawsuit says.

Ms. Teachout says she sustained a jaw fracture and injuries to her head, face, arms and back.

Ms. Teachout was then taken to the county Police Department, where she was charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and operating a vehicle without a valid drivers license, the lawsuit says.

She also was charged with fleeing and eluding police "for the sole, express purpose of covering up and/or justifying the brutal physical assault" from Officer Mynaugh, the lawsuit alleges.

The fleeing and eluding charge was dismissed by the State's Attorney's Office when the case went to juvenile court, the lawsuit says.

Ms. Teachout's record was unavailable because juvenile documents are sealed.

Ms. Teachout has requested a jury trial. No proceedings have been scheduled.

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